Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Zulus! 21/02/10

Zululand invaded !

The scenario...... Our intrepid British commanders, Eason at the head of the long column, has crossed the frontier river. Following at a tardy rate, Halliday is bringing up the rear of the column,  herding the supplies and artillery train onwards.

What could go wrong?

Cross the border drift.... march a few miles and camp for the night ...   and a brew!

Durnford (pictured) has the rear/left flank covered, a mixed Company of Rifles and Marines are flung out to the left flank and our reliable allies of the NNC are up front scaring off any snooping Zulus.

Of course they are!

However  .........

The massed regiments of Impi InDuna Coutts had other ideas.

Poised, waiting to strike, their foes crawl forward at an agonising pace, the red coated invaders are stretched out across the entire front of the impi....

Arrayed in their Zulu battle formation, horns flung out, chest and loins, they are a hidden menace behind the line of low hills and bush/trees (pictured right), these warriors fear no one !

 The trap is sprung!
The NNC at the head of the column stroll along ..... it's been a long day.

A rush ..... screams .... fear grips their hearts.
they take the obvious decision in the face of the left horn advance, flee !
A mob now .... no resistance offered they run seeking a way to safety.
Crash .....  volleys of rifle fire from the Imperial troops bar their escape route. Safely lining the stone walls of the enclosure they are calmly loading and firing, ready for the onslaught.
Bodies tumble, tearing holes in the mob ......
friendly or not, they're on their own. A slaughter!

Now the Rifles & Marines are stung into action with some unusually accurate rifle fire from the low hills ...

where did they get those rifles from?

The RHA unlimber and fire into the flanks of the  Zulus closing on Durnford scouts to the rear.

Gosh they're moving fast.... when was the last time they'd fired for real?  Lack of practice ... it shows!
The right horn does not slow at all. 

Durnford is magnificent as his troop sting the right horn into following him ...  as RHA shells whizz over their pursuers heads.

Dismount ... fire ... mount up .. retire ... dismount ..fire
but the Zulus still press forward .. closing ever nearer.
They are caught attempting to mount up, his troopers are swamped by two regiments of the right horn. Not many will escape this day.

But the encounter has caused a major delay in their progress onto the river and the farm buildings beyond.

Regiments of the chest roll over the low hills and
close on the settlement ....
the skirmishing Company now leaving the open
velt to their foes.

Halliday wakes up to the right horn threat !

No time to lose now. He has to be across the swollen river soon as his infantry cannot be delayed by those wagons.
The drovers are panicking .....

As the men increase their pace to the double they  cross the river at the same time as the supplies and cattle.
Animals to the rear ..  over with those wagons !
They line the river banks and man the barricade..
... just in time though.
The RHA focuses their fire on the impi warriors waiting to clear Durford's final melee.

 Meanwhile the left horn is shattered with volleys  from the Companies holding the low hill and wagon line ...  those who survive the devastating fire grapple with the red line.
bayonet v assegai

It's too much for the exhausted zulu youths.

A repulse which will have repercussions later in the day.

While the flanks are secure for now the
chest hurls itself against the walls.....

Multiple attacks wither under the fire of massed volleys.

Then a glimmer of hope for the impi...  the walls are reached, red coats fall, all hangs on this decisive moment.

The warriors held in reserve position themselves to bolster the attack upon the walls.

Disaster for the Zulus at the wall.
Those troops who routed the left horn can now bring their fire to halt any expected support from the loins of the impi.
Mounted troopers round their flanks and they hesitate.
Not broken but the impetus has gone in the centre.
It rests with the right horn attack now.
Volley fire cannot halt their progress as
the banks of the river are reached.
The attack hangs in the balance ...
Fix bayonets........ Charge!
Unexpected, violent and perfectly timed.
Younghusband leads his Company in a classic counter to tumbble the zulu back.
Barring for some small groups of warriors breaking around the side of the enclosure, the attackers are broken.
The action was fast and the moves took us from 18:30 until 21:30,  including tea and biscuits!

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